VIDEO: On Valentine’s Day, lingering questions about labor violations in the flower industry

Sixty-five percent of the roses, carnations, lilies, pompons and crysanthemums Americans give on Valentine's Day will come through Miami International Airport from farms in Colombia, the world's second largest flower exporter and a country with which the U.S. recently signed a free trade agreement despite outcry from labor and social organizations over anti-union violence and labor violations.

Right-wing campaign to battle Sharia cites Tampa judge’s ruling

In an effort to support state Sen. Alan Hays' and Rep. Larry Metz's Application of Foreign Law bill, conservative commentators have recently been claiming that a Florida judge has subjected one of the parties involved in a civil law suit against the Islamic Education Center of Tampa to Sharia, Islamic law. But legal experts say the judge's ruling is hardly uncommon, and that laws of all faiths and nationalities are regularly discussed in American courts.

House subcommittee advances fertilizer regulation loophole

A Florida House subcommittee this morning advanced House Bill 421, a measure that would allow those who have obtained a limited certification for urban landscape commercial fertilizer application to be exempt from local fertilizer regulations. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Lecanto, has come under fire for taking power away from local communities.

Tampa mayor backs lawmaker’s reclaimed water bill

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is backing a bill that would privatize the water that is reclaimed by utilities. The legislation, which is sponsored by state Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, would essentially redefine reclaimed waters and prohibit water management districts from requiring a permit for their use.

Rubio introduces bill to overturn federal birth control decision

The Hill is reporting that Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has introduced a bill that would roll back a recent decision by the Obama administration to require that insurance providers — with the exception of religious employers — cover birth control as a preventive service. Rubio is among a small group of legislators that receives money from a Catholic group that has been opposed to the mandate for some time.

Panel discusses misleading recruiting, stat-keeping practices at for-profit colleges (Updated)

A panel of former for-profit university students, professors and recruiters discussed the controversial higher ed institutions yesterday, making strong claims about questionable practices at schools like the Art Institutes, Argosy University, Brown Mackie College and South University — all of which are owned by the Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corporation.

Department of Health offers minimal oversight of state-funded crisis pregnancy clinics

Department of Health records obtained by The Florida Independent show that oversight of Florida's state-funded crisis pregnancy clinic chain mainly rests in the hands of the two organizations contracted by the state to run those clinics — the nonprofit Florida Pregnancy Care Network and the for-profit Uzzell Group. That means the Department of Health has little direct insight into how public money is being spent at 79 crisis pregnancy centers around the state, and if those dollars are being used to disseminate disputed science on abortion or to promote religious content.